Friday, January 9, 2015

More of Cora's thoughts and observations regarding Balance

Dyro Dduw dy Nawdd;
Ag yn nawdd, nerth;

Ag yn nerth, Deall;
Ag yn Neall, Gwybod;
Ac yngwybod, gwybod y cyfiawn
Ag yngwybod y cyfiawn, i garu;
Ag o garu, caru pob hanfod;
Ag ymhob Hanfod, caru Duw.
Duw a phob Daioni.

Grant, Divinity thy protection
And in Protection, Strength;
And in Strength, Understanding;
And in Understanding, Knowledge;
And in Knowledge, the Knowledge of Justice:
And in the Knowledge of Justice, the Love of it;
And in the Love of it, the Love of All Existences;
And in the Love of All Existences, the Love of Divinity.

The first word of the prayer is "Grant" so this is about asking for a boon, a gift. And the root gift from which everything else flows in this prayer is Protection. Protection is a first order need which must be met in order to allow "understanding" to flower.

What follows is a series of "one thing leads to another." 

The seed of protection opens and blossoms into... strength. Each subsequent gift flows from the one before, like a series of water bowls positioned one above the other so that the one above pours into and fills the next below and so on. 

Or perhaps we could think of them as concentric ripples on the water's surface: Protection at the centerpoint, the others flowing outward, each still partaking of Protection, but each gift like a different crest of that pattern of waves...

And in Protection Strength...
It might give us strength of body, of course, if we think of how peace and safety are the roots of a productive life, necessary for raising healthy food and attending to our bodies. However, it seems to me particularly to suggest strength of character, a spiritual strength that permits us to grow, the inherent strength of the Oak tree rising tall toward the Sky, delving deep in the Earth, drawing up the Waters of the Land to transform them into Life.

Strength can also be thought of as the basis for life and survival. It is our fundamental sense of security -- that first order need. But it isn't only security, it is also activity. Strength is set off here as distinct from Protection, and so, we receive the gift of divine protection that allows us to develop in such a way that we can protect ourselves and go forth into the world to slay our dragons. 

Strength is often thought of as a warrior virtue. The Warriors - such as Shalev, for example, are the elite and their strength was not only the bodily strength of the farmer and smith. It joined those two strengths into bravery - the ability to face danger and challenge unflinchingly and persevere. 

And in Strength Understanding...

Again, the verb operating throughout the prayer is "Grant" We are granted the boon of protection, which leads to strength, and now this strength gives birth to understanding. Both of body and of character with skill and training to be fearless. Strength, thus prepares us for anything, it is the prerequisite to all kinds of training, and training is the remarkable thing that sets us apart. We are like the beasts in being born with certain abilities and talents, but we can also be trained, educated, and our skills honed far beyond what comes naturally.

One doesn't usually think of strength leading to understanding. But here again, I think the former lays the foundation for the next. Strength is physical and moral strength, the ability to act, to stand up for oneself and one's principles, to engage the world and wrestle with challenges. -- nobility might be another word for it -- the ability to be powerful and to use power wisely and with justice.

So, in Strength [grant] Understanding. What exactly is understanding and why does it come before Knowledge? This puzzled me at first. Doesn't one accumulate Knowledge and then arrive at understanding of how things work?

Understanding is like another sort of Strength. Built upon strength of body, mind, and character, this new power is the power of reason, insight, intuition -- the ability to see patterns in the world around us, to solve problems, to see cause and effect, to envision complex systems. Creating meaning out of the raw materials of experience. We reason create discourses to explain to ourselves the meaning of what we perceive, and what we imagine. 

And in Knowledge, the Knowledge of Justice...

What is Justice anyway? Sometimes we think of it as punishment, or the doling out of punishment to wrong-doers. But the flip side of that notion of Justice is that Justice, were it to rule everyone's heart would result in no wrong-doing. Were Justice to prevail in society as an abstract spirit of god (rather than as a secular system or institution of courts and judges), we would administer it to ourselves before we did any injustice. 

Judgment in this sense means perception, and when guided by wisdom, brings about harmony and balance - that is, I'm not making choices that are extreme or inappropriate when I'm aware of the balance of things. This the middle path of balance between the extremes.

Justice also means I may choose to accept the duty to work for justice and fairness - balance, harmony - for others, for the environment, etc. Justice thus will mean service, doing for others, for the earth, to bring about fairness and harmony. Doing service to others is only helpful for them and a growth process for me when I do it willingly and with commitment and free choice, not out of guilt or feeling 'I should do it" - freely given.

To seek balance is to seek a personal code of ethics. To strive for it, think and meditate about it and most of all, to try and apply the conclusions of the search in everyday life. 

When I conceive of 'justice' as 'balance', and then look at nature, I see that the cycle of life - birth, growth, renewal/conception of new life, and finally, breakdown, leading to death/destruction - is the balance of nature. Is the breakdown and destruction justice? do we find it positive in it? It's surely a natural part of life, basic in nature. 

 Judging people harshly just because they annoy your or you are angry, is not really the sort of justice we want, even if it is technically "just". 

Knowledge of justice to me means knowing that actions have consequences and accepting this, of knowing that we each impact the world around us by simply being here and that we must understand and accept this and attempt that influence to be in the best possible way. 

The love of justice...of balance... is to be completely accepting of this, to love it for what it makes us do and say, to love the world around us because we constantly care for it and to love that which creates this sense of justice within us. 

To realize that by embracing justice we embrace the idea that we are responsible for our actions, that we are not controlled by fate at this level but that we choose what to do with our lives and must accept and bear the consequences of that. 

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